Not only did the Northern Pacific railroad provide service to the burgeoning local coal industry, it also invested directly in the coal mining business at Melmont located along the Carbon River. The mine operated for 16 years before closing in 1916. During this period, it is said to have produced about 900,000 tons of coal - certainly a respectable amount. Following is a photo showing the mine and town.
Photo courtesy Washington State Historical Society, 2017.1.48
According to the image description, the photo is dated 1890. However, other sources indicate that the mine first opened in 1900. In any event, we can see the railroad located just above the Carbon river's shore with a dirt road into town located above the railroad. Steep terrain. The town consisted of several rows of cottages, a hotel, store, saloon, depot and schoolhouse. The only way into town was via the railroad. The following photo shows the mine looking at it from the upstream side.
Image courtesy The Coal Fields of Pierce County, Washington Geological Survey Bulletin No. 10, circa 1914
They appeared to have a field for horses and/or donkeys. Perhaps these animals were used in some capacity pulling coal carts.
Today, Melmont is a ghost town. The good news - you can visit the town site by hiking along the Foothills Trail that extends about 3 miles beyond the Fairfax bridge along the river and further south. Please note, Melmont is located on the opposite side of the river from Fairfax. Access to the trail is just before you cross the Fairfax bridge. There are nice hand holds attached to the bridge structure that makes it easy to get down to the trail. Closest parking is on the Fairfax side of the bridge. Walk back across the bridge to find the trail. The trail is along a very gradual grade and kid friendly. Well worth the hike.